Misery Signals

support August Burns Red + Emmure + Verify
author AP date 09/04/08 venue Kulturhuset, Örebro, SWE

What kind of deranged scribe drives six hours to central Sweden to catch a gig featuring bands he barely knows and then drives back through the night in thick fog in moose-infested forests while his colleague and photographer sleep in comfortable ignorance, not knowing about the two-metre visibility their driver is deliriously blasting through at high speed? A devoted one. As we close in on the Swedish town of Örebro in whipping rain and wind, we begin to question whether this was the best of ideas, driving all this way to catch Misery Signals with August Burns Red, Emmure and Verify. The venue is an interesting one: a small room in the basement of some cultural centre with no bar and no access to drinks besides tap water in the toilets. The wall is lined with merch from tonight's quartet of bands, the band members sitting behind the desks selling it themselves. The turnout is much better than I'd expected, and consists of a curious blend of the scene kid and the hardcore kid.

Verify

When Belgian Verify steps on stage, they immediately set the room ablaze despite the fact that they're the only band tonight not tapped on Misery Signals' European run. But from what I understand, this isn't the first time Verify has guested this particular venue, and judging from the band's performance, it certainly won't be the last either. Verify pounds through a medium length set of straight out hardcore, occasionally exposing a heartfelt melodic guitar lead that sets relative calm to the pit, littered with hardcore dancers, or as I like to call them, karate moshers. The band's lead singer storms around the stage with high energy, making use of a good portion of stage tricks to come across as a powerful front man. Despite his small size his screams are brutal as fuck. Where the band's show starts off as generic with little or no melody, as it progresses the songs become more complex and more thoughtful, though admittedly less inviting for pit mayhem. But in the end it's the band's passionate delivery of the songs that lifts up the show. There isn't a single note, a single chord, nor a single word that isn't delivered straight from the band's heart. And the band's technical proficiency and the excellent sound quality certainly don't work to their disadvantage either.

7

Emmure

Next it's Emmure's turn to man the stage with their ear-blistering serving of hardcore-meets-death metal. The band is clad in street wear, eager to point out that NY hardcore is indeed where their loyalties lie. Vocalist Frank Palmeri lays out the rules from second one: the pit is to remain in entropy throughout their set, and at his command it must at once turn into a circle pit. He then unleashes an unrelenting death metal growl that embraced the entire venue, so much that little else is heard than his voice and the rhythm section. Unfortunately this is in part due to a sudden decrease in sound quality in comparison to Verify's set, resulting in muddy, indistinguishable noise intercepted only by overpowered blast beats. But Palmeri gives it his all, his stage persona both looking and sounding like an enraged gorilla that's about to shred some poor child into shits and bits. It's obvious that this band will compromise nothing to please the crowd; no melodies, no clean vocals and no tranquil interludes. It's breakdown-grind-breakdown in the best moshcore fashion.

6

August Burns Red

As August Burns Red set up their equipment and commence sound checks, I exchange a few words with a crowd member who has also traveled here from afar just to catch August Burns Red. It's rewarding to know we aren't the only fools here tonight. "Good evening! We're August Burns Red from Lancaster, Pennsylvania," announces front man Jake Luhrs, before his five-piece ensemble blasts into "The Truth Of A Liar". As the song progresses, so does the mayhem, which begins to propagate into the still-standing outer bands of the audience as well. The fate of out photographer at the front at this point is becoming less and less certain. My attention, however, is fixated on the sheer power of August Burns Red's delivery, drawing parallels to what I witnessed last year watching Job For A Cowboy. Jake dominates the venue with his terrifying scream, flying about the stage, head banging, pausing only to extend the entire microphone stand into the crowd, who welcome this gesture by knowing every line of every song played. Suddenly the playing halts, as Jake points out "For some reason our drummer is bleeding. Oh well." The drummer makes no indication that he's in pain or unable to play, and instead begins battering his kit hard as ever to deliver one of the most solid metal sets I've seen in a while. August Burns Red plays with an incredible energy, succeeding in not settling for a static performance despite the technical nature of their music. And what's more, sound quality is at an all time high again, ensuring that we shan't miss a single note of the band's complex song structures. Horns up from me!

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Misery Signals

If one third of tonight's attendees are here to see August Burns Red, then the remaining two thirds make no effort to hide that it's Misery Signals they're here to support. The band members have been interacting with the crowd throughout the last three shows, taking breaks from selling merch to check out the other bands and exchange a few words with their fans. The atmosphere is as laid back and informal as can be. That is, until Misery Signals step on stage and instantly prohibit anyone from not rocking out. The confidence with which Misery Signals deliver their frantic set insists they're seasoned veterans compared to their newer peers supporting them on this tour. Where Jake is a dominant front man, Misery Signals' Karl Schubach is downright all-encompassing, his presence so captivating and furious it probably has half the city wondering what crime is being committed in their neighborhood that yields such horrifying screams. He's able to orchestrate a neat circle pit that ensues for a couple of songs before turning into the hardcore-dancing freak show state it's been in for most of the night. Who doesn't love crowd participation? And participate is precisely what they do, hardly giving any room for Karl to sing his lyrics on his own. When "The Failsafe" kicks in, a sudden surge of audience pushes toward the stage, each kid eager to lay down his own version of the words "it was a free fall / an act of desperation / our backs against the wall". Misery Signals' allure comes from their ability to craft extremely varied, complicated songs that combine the relentlessly brutal with the stunningly beautiful, and this ability is bettered tenfold live. The clean, angelic melodies engulf the room, lingering around in haunting tones only to be shred to shits and bits by Karl's brutal screams or one of the odd-time breakdowns the band is revered for. It's easy to see that Misery Signals give it their all tonight, determined to fulfill each fan's expectations for a show that's almost certainly rare in a town like Örebro.

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